TORRINGTON – Goshen County Economic Development (GED) honored local veterans on Thursday at the Homesteader’s Museum.
GED Community Development Director Sandy Hoehn welcomed the public to the third annual “Honoring Our Local Veterans” event.
Banners were hung up across the county to honor many of the veterans in the community. The event served as a way to honor the stories behind the banners as told by family and friends of the veterans.
The event started with the presentation of colors by Keith Carr, Wyatt Lacman, Rick Miller, and Mike Sinner of the American Legion Honor Guard.
District 2 Vice Commander of the American Legion Department of Wyoming Tom Allan spoke to the audience about the origins of Veterans Day dating back to the Armistice which ended World War I.
Allan talked about the lasting impact of a military member’s service to the country.
“Military service by its nature is temporary,” Allan said. “The legacy of that service, however, can benefit generations for centuries.”
Allan told stories of heroism from soldiers such as Colonel Ralph Puckett and Admiral Jeremiah Denton who fought to preserve the freedom and democracy of America.
Allan also talked about people who served in the military and later influenced the culture of the nation including founder of FedEx Frederick Smith, baseball legend and civil rights leader Jackie Robinson, renowned surgeon Michael Debakey, and computer scientist Grace Hopper.
Allan said the toughness of those in the military is greater than leaders without such experience.
“Can any CEO or corporate icon truly call claim to have greater responsibility than a platoon commander or a platoon sergeant leading a team into combat,” Allan said. “For these young people, a bad day doesn’t mean ‘aw I blew that account’, or ‘we lost some business.’ It can mean watching your best friend die, losing a limb, or being immersed in the collateral suffering that’s synonymous with war.”
Allan also talked about the work the American Legion does to help veterans on a daily basis and especially those who struggle with their mental health.
“We at the American Legion welcome and encourage conversations such as [mental health] among veterans. We call them buddy checks. We remind all veterans that their service matters. We remind them that their wellbeing matters,” Allan said.
Allan reminded the audience to honor and recognize those who served for the greater good of the nation.
“Veterans have given us freedom, security, and the greatest nation on Earth. It’s impossible to put a price on that,” Allan said. “We must remember them, and we must
As an introduction for the new banners, Wesley Deen spoke about what his time in the service meant to him and how support for veterans has changed over the years.
“I want to thank everyone that supports our veterans,” Deen said. “I’ve been retired for 17 years, but it’s a lot better now than it was during Vietnam.”
Deen said throughout his tours around the world he learned there is no better country than the one he was born in.
“I’ve been to over two dozen other countries in my career and, let me tell you the USA is the best country in the world by far,” Deen said.
Deen also said all members of the military share a special bond which makes them a family.
After Deen’s speech, the new class of veterans with banners were recognized. Hoehn enlisted the help of her son to honor his grandfather Loren Isbell with his banner.
Stacey Robbins with the Torrington Elks Lodge recognized Gerald “Ike” Eisenbarth as the club’s selection for a banner this year. Robbins talked about Eisenbarth’s 40-plus years training soldiers to use heavy artillery in combat.
“He never saw any action, but I think he probably trained hundreds of thousands of soldiers how to operate all kinds of machinery and heavy guns,” Robbins said.
Travis Snow, who died in France in 1918, was honored by the American Legion in Torrington as the post is named after him. Snow’s mother donated the building where the post is today as a result of naming it after her son. In 2020, the post celebrated 100 years.
Hoehn recognized other veterans in attendance including Steven Ransom and Shannon Pickinpaugh who spoke on the importance of the family members who are left at home.
“It means a lot to have support at home,” Pickinpaugh said.
Sidney Rice was also recognized, and his wife was in attendance to honor him.
GED Operations Director Tammy Derr read the names and honors of the other veterans who had a new banner this year which included Emil Lapp Jr., Lewis Snyder, Karen Derr, William Greenwald, Richard Nedens, Dillon Bomgardner, Kathryn Evezich, Leo Keenan, Lee Rohm, Michael Gottschim, Eric Duncan, Randall Duncan and Jesse Duncan.
All the stories, along with the ones from previous years can be seen at the Homesteader’s Museum until the end of the year.